Are Any Health Risks Associated With Remote Work?

Are Any Health Risks Associated With Remote Work?
Image Credit: National Archives and Records Administration/National Building Museum

Many people have come to enjoy working from home over the past few years, as remote work offers many benefits that employees are sure to appreciate. Remote employees can skip grueling commutes through rush hour traffic, wear more comfortable or casual outfits, and frequently have more flexible working hours.

But despite the many positive aspects of remote work, there are some potential drawbacks to consider.

Some employees in fully remote workplaces dislike the reduced opportunities for face-to-face interactions or struggle to find structure in their daily workflow. In other cases, working from home can have emotional or physical health consequences that have a lasting impact on a person’s well-being.

This article discusses health risks commonly associated with online workspaces, so you can protect yourself and enjoy a positive job experience.

Many Households Are Not Configured for Remote Work

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to transition from on-site operations to remote work in a hurry. Many employees were left scrambling to shift from working in a furnished office building to finding a suitable corner in their own home. This change was particularly difficult for employees without an appropriate workspace, office chair, or equipment (such as a monitor or work laptop).

Using a makeshift workplace may be adequate for a short while, but an uncomfortable home setup will eventually take a toll on your body. You may experience neck or back pain, which can further degrade your physical and mental health.

To reduce the impact on your body, ensure that your home office is comfortable. Position your computer so that it doesn’t place strain on your neck or eyes. You should also stand up and walk around frequently, and try your best to keep your back straight when seated.

If you find yourself struggling with back or neck pain that started after you began working remotely, you’ve got to determine the cause and make adjustments. You may need to reconfigure your workspace, upgrade to a more comfortable chair, or switch to a different monitor. For persistent pain or discomfort, speak to your doctor to determine potential solutions.

Even Remote Work Can Be Stressful

Meeting strict deadlines, juggling projects, and dealing with unpleasant managers or coworkers can be incredibly stressful, whether you’re working from an office or your living room. When it comes to remote work, it can be especially difficult to draw a firm line between your job and your home life. Hearing your family, friends, or housemates going about their daily routines can be distracting, as can common household chores. The stress of balancing your personal life and job from home can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional well-being.

If you find yourself struggling with new sources of stress in a work-from-home environment, the first step is to identify precisely what is impacting you. Then you can begin taking steps to protect your mental health. Listening to music or talk radio may help you center yourself while performing tasks; frequent outings with friends may help you deal with feelings of isolation during working hours. Studies indicate that discussing our problems helps us face them, so know when to seek assistance from others.

Physical Inactivity Can Cause Serious Harm

Physical inactivity is one of the most severe health risks associated with remote work, and it’s not something that even crosses many people’s minds. Working primarily online makes it easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle without even realizing it. Too much time spent sitting can lead to health concerns down the road, ranging from obesity to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Get at least some degree of physical activity every day. Even a half-hour walk around the neighborhood during your lunch break can make a noticeable difference in your everyday life!

The Effects of Boredom or Fatigue on Mental Health

Even more so than in-person work at an office, remote work can begin to feel repetitive and mentally draining. There may be days where you don’t leave your dwelling at all, or you may find yourself taking fewer breaks and putting in more hours.

If you find yourself experiencing fatigue or boredom, it’s important to find ways to break up your established routine. Try your hand at a new hobby, read a book, or take up a new skill. By being deliberate in your attempts to stimulate your mind, you may find yourself better suited to dealing with long periods in your home workspace.

Indoor Air Quality May Be a Cause for Concern

It may be surprising to learn that the air quality inside your home may be worse than that of outdoor air. Since people tend to spend a lot of time indoors even if they don’t work remotely, this is a health concern that everyone should address. Some things that you may be able to do to improve your home’s air quality include:

  • Vacuuming and dusting regularly.
  • Opening windows periodically to circulate fresh outside air.
  • Changing your home’s filters.
  • Washing sheets and linens regularly.

It can also be beneficial to spend time outdoors daily. Going for regular walks, playing games, or even just sitting outside for a bit can work wonders.

Poor Dietary Habits Can Cause Long-Term Issues

Spending more time in the house can lead to poor eating habits. Maybe you’re skipping meals to complete more work-related tasks, or you’re eating more than usual. Following a balanced diet can help you get the nutrition your body needs to perform at its best. While working from a home office, try to:

  • Make a point of establishing a regular routine for mealtimes. Eating at the same time every day can break up your workday and provide an additional element of structure.
  • Choose nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Meal prep to save time and make your lunch process more convenient.

Enjoy Your Work-From-Home Experience

If you find yourself in a work-from-home environment, take advantage of it! There are few things as satisfying as cutting out a long daily commute or gaining more freedom to work the range of hours you desire. At the same time, we hope this article raises awareness of some of the more common health concerns associated with remote work and how to mitigate them.


This article is part of Buildremote’s contributor series. Occasionally, we’ll share other people’s ideas about running a remote company. If you have a topic you’d like to pitch for Buildremote, send us an idea here.

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